Posted on May 5, 2006
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) today reminded Medicare-eligible Tennesseans of the Monday, May 15 to sign up for the Medicare prescription drug benefit. Those who qualify must sign up by May 15 to avoid paying possible penalties. “At the beginning of 2006, Medicare began offering the option of prescription drug coverage to everyone with Medicare, regardless of income, health status, or prescription drug usage. This is insurance that helps recipients pay for both brand-name and generic drugs at participating pharmacies in their area,” said Alexander. “Today there are more than 30 million Americans, including nearly 700,000 Tennesseans, enrolled in the Medicare prescription drug program and an average of three million prescriptions provided per day. This plan is helping Americans with drug expenses, and I encourage eligible Tennesseans to sign-up and to urge loved ones to sign-up before the deadline on May 15 to avoid paying more to do so later.” Anyone who qualifies for Medicare is eligible to join a plan. In order to be enrolled, individuals must choose from among the plans offered in their area. The plans differ in terms of the drugs they cover and the pharmacies participating. Generally, the plans have in common: a monthly premium (the average is $35 in 2006); a deductible before a recipient receives any drug coverage assistance (the maximum deductible is $250 for 2006); and a requirement for the recipient to pay a part of the cost of their prescription. The prescription drug plan will pay the rest of the cost of the prescription. The following information is helpful to have available when choosing a plan: · Medicare claim number – which is written on Medicare cards · Effective date for Medicare Part A or B coverage – also written on Medicare cards · Last name · Date of birth · Zip code · List of drugs taken regularly, including doseage amounts and the number of pills taken per day · Names of preferred pharmacies in the area The Medicare website (www.Medicare.gov) offers tools to help individuals choose and sign up for a plan that meets their needs. This includes basic information about what Medicare prescription drug coverage is and who, when, and how to get it, and a tool that allows users to enter the drugs they use to find out which plans in an area cover those drugs. Medicare has also offered a phone number, 1-800-633-4227, for individuals to speak with someone about choosing a plan. There is extra help available for individuals with limited incomes and resources. To determine who qualifies for extra assistance with drug expenses, individuals may call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or access their website at www.socialsecurity.gov.